U.S. Financial Rescue Plan Wins Slim Public Support

by Lydia Saad

Republicans and Democrats mostly agree passage was a good thing

PRINCETON, NJ -- More Americans consider it a "good thing" that Congress passed a financial rescue package for U.S. financial institutions last week than call it a "bad thing," but only by a narrow 9 percentage-point margin, 50% to 41%. Another 9% have no opinion about it.


According to the Oct. 3-5 Gallup Poll, Republicans are nearly as supportive of the financial rescue as are Democrats: 54% of Democrats and 50% of Republicans say it's a good thing the plan passed.

Both Barack Obama and John McCain voted for the plan last week, and the new poll shows that about equal levels of Obama and McCain supporters are positive about the plan. However, McCain supporters are slightly more likely than those backing Obama to say it's a bad thing the plan passed. More Obama voters than McCain voters are unsure.


The $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill easily passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on a 263-171 vote on Friday, but not without the continued opposition from a majority of House Republicans, who had helped to kill an earlier version of the bill. Their resistance drew on traditional conservative free-market themes.

Along the same lines, the highest level of opposition Gallup finds to the bill among political subgroups is from political "conservatives." Half of self-described conservatives say it's a bad thing the plan passed. This contrasts with only 36% of "moderates" and a third of "liberals."


Some variation in support for the financial package is also seen by household income. A solid majority of upper-income Americans (57%) are glad the bill passed, compared with only 44% of those making less than $30,000. However, an equal number of both groups -- about 40% -- say it's a bad thing. Many more lower-income households have no opinion about the bill.


Bottom Line

Last week, as Congress was debating the details of a financial rescue package after the first deal fell short of the necessary votes in the U.S. House of Representatives, Americans expressed greater support for Congress' starting over with a new plan than merely revising the one that failed. Now that Congress has done just that -- passed a retooled version of the original failed bill -- Americans seem more likely than not to accept it, albeit by a slim margin. There is, however, relatively little partisan friction in the mix.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,011 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 3-5, 2008. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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